27 Apr 2011

Malaysian 'tour group' accused of drug-smuggling

6:52 pm on 27 April 2011

Ten Malaysians accused of posing as a tour group and smuggling drugs into New Zealand in their shoes are in custody following a court appearance.

The group, aged between 20 and 70, was arrested at Auckland Airport on Tuesday.

Customs says it is the largest number of alleged drug smugglers caught in a single incident at a New Zealand border.

Initially, only two people were caught and after they were searched, the remaining eight were discovered. Some had already left the Customs area.

Customs says each person was carrying between 800 grams and 1kg of methamphetamine, also known as 'P', in their shoes.

The department's investigations manager, Mark Day, says they did not have the normal traits of a tour group.

Mr Day says their listed occupations, itineraries and the amount of luggage they had raised suspicions, and they also could not walk properly in their shoes.

The methamphetamine has a total street value of up to $10 million.

The men and women appeared in Manukau District Court on Wednesday each facing a charge of importing methamphetamine into New Zealand and a charge of possession of methamphetamine for supply.

The accused have been named in court documents as: Eng Hin Ong, Yuen Fatt Wong,Teng Kim Ooi, Ah Kooi Teoh, Eng Wan Teoh, Lian Fong Wong, Sit Mooi En, Waihong Leong, Tan Ah Nya and Ewe Hoe Ong.

All have been remanded in custody and will reappear in court on 25 May.